Balfour Beatty must furlough workers at its Crossrail site in Whitechapel, London, instead of carrying on with the redundancy process in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, Unite, the UK’s construction union, said today (Tuesday 7 April). 

The union said the building giant’s decision to begin redundancy consultations with around 30 construction workers this week, instead of including them under the furlough scheme until the end of the lockdown period, was ‘cruel’.

The redundancies were planned before coronavirus crisis began. However, Unite said that it is ‘very possible’ the workers will need to be taken back on after it has passed, because of the volatilities in the labour market that will follow in the wake of the emergency. 

Unite also rubbished Balfour Beatty’s ‘excuse that it does not want to seem to be taking advantage of the job retention scheme’ as a reason for not keeping the workers on the books. 

Unite regional officer Mark Soave said: “Our members are loyal and hardworking Balfour Beatty staff who are now facing the prospect of dire financial difficulties for themselves and their families during a pandemic.

“There is no reason for Balfour Beatty to cast them into penury on Universal Credit at such a dreadful time. 

“It is very possible they will be needed back on site after the lockdown has ended given the volatilities in the labour market that will follow in the wake of the coronavirus. 

“Nor does Balfour Beatty’s excuse that it does not want to seem to be taking advantage of the job retention scheme hold water. 

“Clearly anyone with even a modicum of sense can see that registering these workers is the moral thing to do. 

“We implore Balfour Beatty’s management to think about the suffering they are going to cause these workers and their families and reverse this cruel decision.”

ENDS

For more about Unite's work during the coronavirus crisis to keep workers and the public safe, and to protect jobs and incomes, click here.

For more information please contact Unite communications officer Ryan Fletcher on 07849 090215.

Email: ryan.fletcher@unitetheunion.org

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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.